Hudson’s Saunders Overcomes Hurdles To Remain On Track

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Hudson senior Tyler Saunders has overcfome several off-the-track distractions to remain in the hunt for a state berth
In the movie 'The Replacements', Gene Hackman who played coach Jimmy
McGinty was asked by a sideline reporter, what it would take to win the
game? His reply was simple – “Heart'” referring to quarterback Shane Falco, who was the heart and soul of the team.
While Hudson senior Tyler Saunders is not Falco, his story is all about heart and then some.


In the movie 'The Replacements', Gene Hackman who played coach Jimmy McGinty was asked by a sideline reporter, what it would take to win the game?

His reply was simple – “Heart'” referring to quarterback Shane Falco, who was the heart and soul of the team.

While Hudson runner Tyler Saunders is not Falco, his story is all about heart and then some.

Last week Saunders had just gotten done running a season best at Strongsville in the 3,200 when on his way home from the meet, he was involved in a severe accident on State Route 91. The scene was pretty bad as the car was totaled, and the airbag deployed.

Saunders was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance as a precaution, due to swelling in his wrist. The prognosis? He would be fine, but needed to get a cast for a broken wrist meaning his season was potentially over.

“I was very fortunate because I collided with another car and only broke my wrist,” said Saunders. “I was pretty shook up and didn't sleep much. I just kept going over and over it in my mind. But I also had it in my mind that I was going to run.”

Getting back on the oval was a no-brainer for the senior. Like every athlete, he had set goals for himself, and considering how his senior year had gone thus far there would be no looking back.

Case in point.

After running with the cross-country team and helping them to a third place finish at the state meet in 2006 with a personal best 16:34, Saunders was sidelined for the 2007 season with what was diagnosed as an iron deficiency problem.

He came back for wrestling where he grappled at 130 pounds, but after placing fifth at sectional the same problem struck again, and he was forced to the sidelines once again.

“Your whole body doesn't work as well, and you feel really weak,” Saunders said. “This is my last year as a senior, and I really worked hard. I had a lot of goals and plans I set as a freshman, so it was very tough.”

Track would be different he thought. Although he had made it to regionals in the 1,600 meters last year, Hudson has two guys who have run much better times this year. So Saunders switched to the 3,200.

“It's turned out great since I made the switch,” Saunders said. “Last week at Jesse Owens, running against some great competition, I dropped 20 seconds off my personal record. I'm trying to be competitive and to make regionals.”

But once again, it appeared a monkey wrench was thrown Saunders way with the accident.

“I was making adjustments as to who would run certain races on Saturday (at the Westlake Invitational) and in the future,” said coach Rod O'Donnell. “But he came to me, ran five miles on Friday and said he could run.”

Run he did, to the astonishment of many. Not just because of the accident, but also the fact that he now carried an additional five or six pounds with him due to the broken wrist after he had a cast put on.

Saunders won the 3,200 at the Westlake Invitational with ease, clocking a 9:46.8. It was nearly 30 seconds faster than his closest opponent. He also was part of the 3,200 relay that finished a close second to Strongsville.

“He's as tough as we get them,” said O'Donnell. ” He's been a real inspiration to the team. It's unfortunate what happened, but his actions have motivated many.”

As for the extra pounds to run with, Saunders didn't seem to mind.

“You definitely know it’s on, especially in the two mile relay with my form,” Saunders said. “But surprisingly, it didn't affect me. It's not 100 percent, but it is fine.”

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